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Planet 51 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 28, 2010 by  



Delightful!  “Planet 51” is a fun sci-fi animated film for the entire family that looks vibrant and sounds great on Blu-ray!

© 2009 Ilion Animation Studios, HandMade Films International, Antenna 3 Films, Lem Films Limited and Chuck & Lem, S.L. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Planet 51

DURATION: 91 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), English, German 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, German, Turkish

COMPANY: Tri Star/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (For Mild Sci-Fi Action and Some Suggestive Humor)

RELEASE DATE: March 9, 2010

Directed by Jorge Blanco, Javier Abad, Marcos Martinez

Written by Joe Stillman

Executive Producer: Mercedes Gamero, Ricardo Garcia Arrojo, Peter D. Graves, Albie Hecht, Stephen Margolis, Albert Martinez Martin, Patrick Meehan, Javier Perez Dolset, Juan Antonio Perez Ramirez, Mercedes Rey Jose A. Rodriguez, Michael Ryan

Produced by Guy Collins, Ignacio Perez Dolset

Associate Producer: Thomas D. Adelman

Music by James Seymour Brett

Edited by Alex Rodriguez

Casting by Ruth Lambert, Karen Lindsay-Stewart, Robert McGee

Production Design by Julian Munoz Romero

Art Direction by Fernando Juarez

Featuring the voices of:

Dwayne Johnson as Captain Charles T. Baker

Justin Long as Lem

Jessica Biel as Neera

Gary Oldman as General Grawl

Seann William Scott as Skiff

John Cleese as Professor Kipple

Freddie Benedict as Eckle

Alan Mariott as Glar

When Chuck the astronaut (Dwayne Johnson) lands on a distant planet filled with little green people, he is surprised to discover that we are not alone in the galaxy. But he gets the shock of his life when the residents of Planet 51 mistakenly believe that his presence is the start of an alien invasion of the human kind! Luckily, Lem (Justin Long) quickly realizes that Chuck is friendly and makes it his personal mission to help him return safely to his ship.

In Nov. 2009, the most expensive movie produced in Spain titled “Planet 51” created by Ilion Animation Studios and HandMade Films with a screenplay by Joe Stillman (“Shrek” films) was released in the US.  With a budget of $70 million, despite heavy competition from Hollywood blockbusters “New Moon” and “2012”, “Planet 51” earned $94 million worldwide.

“Planet 51” revolves around a world with a society of green aliens similar to the USA in the 1950’s and at the local theater, the popular sci-fi film “Humaniac” is being screened.  Lem (Voiced by Justin Long) is an alien who gets a job at the Planetarium.  Lem has a big crush on Neera (voiced by Jessica Biel) but each time he wants to get close to her, her hippie friend Glar is nearby and it seems that he may be trying to get close to her as well.

Meanwhile, a mysterious spacecraft which was orbiting Planet 51 is detected by “Base 9”, a hidden army base which has artifacts from planet Earth.  One of the artifact, which is a rover wakes up when a signal is picked up and begins its mission to look for an astronaut and collect rocks.

The mysterious aircraft lands in Lem’s back yard and an astronaut from NASA, Charles “Chuck” Baker (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) comes out and plants the US flag on the planet.  But when he looks around the planet, what was supposed to be uninhabited has homes and building where green people live and this freaks out Chuck who immediately goes into hiding.

With many people on the planet fearing aliens (due to the sci-fi films of the time such as “humaniac”, the people of Planet 51 think there is going to be an alien invasion.  Immediately, General Grawl (voiced by Gary Oldman) along with Professor Kipple (voiced by John Cleese) try to gain more research studying the alien spacecraft and quarantines the area to prevent its citizens to become “zombies”.

As for Lem, while cleaning up at the planetarium, he finds Chuck in hiding and immediately the two realize they speak the same language and that Chuck is no threat.  Chuck then lets Lem know that he has 74 hours to get back into his spacecraft or else the spacecraft will leave without him. Meanwhile, the NASA rover continues to look for the astronaut while evading the General’s forces and hostile citizens but yet  finds a friend in Lem’s comic book geek friend Skiff (voiced by Seann William Scott) who looks at Rover as his newfound pet.

So, Chuck depends on Lem (and his friends) in hiding him temporarily and help find a way to get him back into his well-guarded spacecraft.  But is it possible?  Especially with General Grawl and his men ready to kill anyone who may be deemed as helping the alien (Chuck) and those who are helping him?

VIDEO:

“Planet 51” looks very good when it comes to details. Presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1),  I enjoyed the overall atmosphere created by Ilion Animation Studios.  From the creation of the homes, the gates, the plants, the skies…the whole ’50s feel of the town looks quite vibrant and beautiful.   But when it comes to the green citizens, there is much less detail.  Although green, even Shrek is green but you can still see the spots within its skin.  Not so much for the aliens of “Planet 51”, although a lot of detail can be seen in the astronaut uniform of Chuck.   But overall, the animation was well-done from Ilion Animation Studios and the presentation is absolutely vibrant in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Planet 51” features audio in English and German 5.1 DTS-HD MA.  Also, an English audio description track in 5.1 Dolby Digital is included.  Because the film incorporates many action scenes, from the sound of the vehicles zipping through the air, Chuck’s spacecraft with its engine roaring or the hidden base opening up, there is good use of the surround channels and LFE.  Dialogue and music are also clear and understandable through the center and front channels.  But overall, a pretty solid lossless soundtrack!

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Spanish, German and Turkish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Planet 51” comes with the following special features in High Definition with English Stereo and English with German subtitles:

  • Target 51 Game – Play as Charles “Chuck” Baker in galaxy mode or survival mode.   The game also comes with an optional iPhone controller App download from iTunes!
  • Extended Scenes – A total of three extended scenes: A Total Disaster, When Aliens Invade, What Do Zombies Say?
  • The World of Planet 51 – (2:52) Featuring the CG clips of the locations and key areas featured in the world of Planet 51.
  • Life on Planet 51 – (12:04) The making of “Planet 51” plus a look at how ILION Animation Studios in Madrid, Spain created the film.
  • Planetarium – The Voice Stars of Planet 51 – (3:18) A featurette with interviews with the voice talent of “Planet 51” including Justin Long, Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Gary Oldman and Sean William Scott.
  • Planet 51 Music Video Montage – (2:10) A video montage of scenes from “Planet 51” along with a song “Aliens Exist” by Blink 182.
  • Animation Progression Reels – (15:53) Featuring six animated progression reels.  Featuring four split screens with a pre-rendered CG clip, storyboards, and more.
  • Previews – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

“Planet 51” comes with a DVD version of the film and also a Digital Copy included on the DVD.

“Planet 51” is a fun and entertaining sci-fi film.  Although, the cold war reference, especially dealing with the fear of aliens may go over the heads of children, “Planet 51” manages to be a film similar to E.T. but in this case, the human is the alien and for the most part, the green aliens speak perfect English. Also, the film does a good job for paying homage to various sci-fi films such as “Alien”, “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Star Wars”, “Terminator”, etc.  If anything, the humor of the cold war, especially classic and current sci-fi films will easily make fans of the genre quite appreciate of the film.

While, the human “Chuck” is more of a guy that is all talk and makes himself out as a guy who has “the right stuff”, Lem has been the alien guy who really never stood for himself and has had his share of low self-esteem.  Through helping Chuck and overcoming a variety of obstacles, we see how Lem begins to feel more comfortable with himself and eventually, using his new-found self-esteem to get closer to his dream girl Neera.

Despite the film not receiving the greatest reviews, “Planet 51” is a CG-animated film that may not have any deep overtones but there is really cool CG animation when it comes to the actual living areas.  The detail is quite beautiful on Blu-ray and the lossless soundtrack is quite awesome as well.  The Blu-ray has a good number of special features as well.  And if you are a parent looking for a fun and safe film for the kids while going on a trip, the Blu-ray release does include a DVD and also a digital copy as well.

Overall, “Planet 51” is a good movie and I think those who are able to pick up on the jokes of the film will enjoy some of its slapstick humor.  The film has enough gags to please the children (as my seven year old who watched it in the theater and once again with me on Blu-ray was giggling throughout) but anyone expecting anything more or anything deep may be disappointed. But in the end, I was quite satisfied with the film overall.

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